Better Together backer linked SNP to “nationalist extremism”


  By Martin Kelly

A key financial backer of the anti-independence campaign once branded the SNP “deeply dangerous” and “hostile” to England.
Author Christopher Sansom was this weekend named as one of several people who had donated significant sums of money to the Better Together campaign.

The Edinburgh born writer gave £133,000 to the campaign which is headed by Labour MP Alistair Darling.  Sansom had previously donated £161,000 to Better Together.

However controversial comments from author Sansom are sure to be a source of embarrassment to Better Together.

Speaking to the Herald newspaper in October 2012, Sansom linked the Scottish National Party to extremism and accused it of being motivated by anti-English sentiment.

Sansom accused First Minsiter Alex Salmond of “creating a new culture of hostility and bitterness”.

He wrote: “I find it heartbreaking – literally heartbreaking – that my own country, Britain, which was less prone to domestic nationalist extremism between the wars than most, is increasingly falling victim to the ideologies of nationalist parties.”

He added: “Like all nationalist parties the SNP define themselves against a hostile ‘other,’ which in the case of the SNP has always been England, although when Salmond’s mask of bonhomie slips, as it often does, he talks of Scotland being unfairly treated by ‘the UK’.

“The SNP like to present themselves representing a new type of politics, but nationalist populism is actually a very old and mangy European beast.”

Sansom also accused the Scottish Government of trying to “gerrymander the referendum” and of planning to create an independent Scotland that might be ruled by the SNP “perhaps forever”.

Sansom’s name was amongst a list of Better Together financial backers which also included a former spy, a Highland laird, a stockbroker involved in the Barings bank collapse and the chairman of an English Premier League club.

Publication of the list has led to Better Together being labelled a ‘Tory Front’ organisation after the SNP claimed that several of the latest raft of big-money donors are also financial supporters of the Conservative Party.

Responding to the list of donors, the SNP has said it highlights the Tory roots of the Better Together campaign.

“This list of donors to the No campaign is further proof that the anti-independence campaign is Tory to the core.

“It is led by a Tory Prime Minister and bankrolled by leading Tory party donors.” said SNP MP Angus Robertson.

Figures published by the anti-independence group showed others to give six figure sums included Argyll businessman Donald Houston who gave £100,000.  Houston also gave a further £500,000 through two of his companies.

Investment banker Andrew Fraser donated £200,000 and Alan Savage, chairman of Inverness-based recruitment group Orion, contributed £150,000.

Mr Robertson added: “No wonder traditional Labour supporters and grassroots members are turning their backs on the No camp which is simply a Tory front organisation funded by the same super-rich individuals who fund the Conservatives.

“Only a Yes vote offers a better future with the opportunity to build a fairer and more prosperous nation.”

Asked by Newsnet Scotland whether Better Together condemned the comments from Mr Sansom, their communications director Rob Shorthouse replied with one word and said “No”.